Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Peyton Reed might not be the first director you’d think of for the newest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with films including Bring it On, Down with Love, and Yes Man in his filmography, but the director has taken on the unenviable task of picking up the project after Edgar Wright’s departure and bringing the tiny hero to the big screen.
Still with Edgar Wright’s credit for story and screenplay, Ant-Man brings forth one of, if not the most relatable character to headline an MCU film to date. Ant-Man’s Scott Lang comes carrying the burden of several common problems in terms of family and finances, it’d be hard pressed for many people not to find something in there to connect with personally.
This is where Ant-Man succeeds the most, by drawing the audience in with a likeable character, before things escalate too far down the superhero path and become increasingly less tangible to the audience. In a lot of ways Ant-Man is pretty refreshing for a superhero film, its character’s main power makes for a very smooth transition into a lot of interesting situations and action sequences that aren’t common amongst superhero films. Reed delivers some innovative set pieces and fight scenes that make the most of what makes Ant-Man different from all the others.
Story wise Ant-Man is generally solid but this is where there aren’t many surprises along the way, early on the film takes its fairly predictable structure without ever really deviating from where you expect it to go. Recent MCU films have either dwelled on the build up to Infinity War or at least followed the path of various infinity gems, however Ant-Man diverges from all of this and manages to find its own niche in the MCU and without suffering for it. You’ll find more than enough references and links to the larger events going on around this film but to its credit it does so without becoming a slave to those events, which works very effectively.
Paul Rudd’s casting in Ant-Man sent a pretty clear message about the tone of the film and overall this results in a fun and humorous adventure film, Rudd’s performance is pretty familiar particularly given his comedic sensibilities but he’s well cast and the film has been constructed to work with his performance setting the tone of comedy, action, and mild drama. Most of the emotionally charged/dramatic material rests with Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly, the pair handle the drama while Rudd handles the quirky and snappy comedy and the chemistry among the trio is very entertaining.
Similar to a few Marvel films before it (Thor 2, Age of Ultron), Ant-Man comes up short with its villain. Corey Stoll’s performance is fine, and his character’s motivations are compelling enough but his character arc throughout the film simply fails to capitalise on any of its background with more than a few lost opportunities for some real drama with the other characters. Unfortunately the villainous plot tends to tell the audience what the drama and conflict is, rather than displaying it through compelling character interactions.
Ultimately however Ant-Man is a thoroughly enjoyable and well-constructed action adventure, it operates completely effectively as a stand-alone film, and yet still weaves itself into the MCU so that’s still part of all that’s happening across the setting (to quote Agents of SHIELD – “it’s all connected”).
I’m giving Ant-Man 7 out of 10 stars, it’s in cinemas around Australia from Thursday 16th July 2015.